Buffy groaned at the sound of Dawn's far too perky voice. She was still recovering from the night before. It didn't stop her from lazing the afternoon away on the beach, but she didn't move from her spot unless she had to. She hadn't had a night like the one before in years. Sure she'd clubbed in London, Paris, Rome, and Athens among other places but she could not remember the last sunrise she saw before going to bed. Thank God she wasn't a drinker or she'd be miserably hung over today.
Dawn, on the other hand, acted as if they hadn't done anything extraordinary. Buffy doubted life in Chicago was dull and Dawn probably enjoyed the freedom of being somewhere that allowed her to be her own person. It was part of the reason Buffy had stayed away. She didn't want the badness that always seemed to penetrate Buffy's life to leak into Dawn's when she had a real chance to succeed.
"You're in my sun." She pouted prettily, knowing it wouldn't have the desired effect on Dawn.
"Oh come on."
"What? You may be used to staying up all night, but I'm not." She noticed Dawn's quirked eyebrow and added. "Anymore. God I sound so old."
"You do. Hey, those guys I'm playing volleyball with, they invited us to their boat for cocktails and then clubbing."
"Mm, we can go but no drinking anything there. Clubs, fine, but you know the rules."
She shoved her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes. "Yes, I know the rules. I'm not two you know."
"No, I do know that. I'm well aware of the fact that you're a young, nubile, and smart nineteen year old girl. I also know that guys can be pretty creepy. And that's why there are rules. If I wasn't capable of protecting you I'd say no to the cocktail hour, but it's not like I can't take them."
Dawn snorted. "I always love it when you talk like that."
"Because normally I don't think you dwell on how much stronger you are than everyone else."
Buffy shrugged casually, rolling her shoulders as she did. It was about time for her to flip over anyway. She was working on her tan. Too bad she had to wear a suit here. She'd have tan lines on her chest and back for the first time in a while. She wasn't an exhibitionist, and at first she'd been uncomfortable tanning topless. By the time she'd left France and hit Spain, she'd been fine. And Greece, it wasn't even anything for her to dwell on. She'd never gotten with the full nudity, but hey, her breasts were perky and stuff. And she'd seen some women who should have been covering theirs up decades ago. So, why not? had been her philosophy.
"So, cocktails and then clubbing?"
"Yes. I'm going to need a vacation from my Spring Break vacation, I can feel it already."
"That's the best kind of Spring Break to have. Besides, you don't work."
"Okay, much. At least not like normal people."
Buffy still slayed. There were salesman that traveled, Buffy was the traveling slayer. Have vampire or demonic activity? Slayer will travel. She'd come back to the United States to man the hellmouth in Cleveland. She hadn't exactly been a slacker the last three years. She'd trained so many slayers she'd lost count. And she was, much to Giles' pleasure, making with the research. At twenty-five it was too much to expect her to slay forever, though Giles had never really come up with an answer on what her life would be like. She was an anomaly having lived this long. So there were no notes or journal entries for him to look through.
She really just wanted to know if she had to worry about turning into a burning pile of ash at the ripe age of thirty. Drifting away in her sleep at a ripe old age surrounded by a husband, children and grandchildren would be ideal. Buffy was accustomed to her life falling outside the realm of ideal so she was not holding her breath.
"You want to come play volleyball with us?"
No, she really didn't want to, but it would make Dawn happy so she'd do it. She couldn't act like a complete bum the ten days they had together. Besides, volleyball was fun and maybe she'd wake up. "Sure, why not?"
Buffy managed to keep her mouth closed somehow when they boarded the boat hosting cocktail hour. The boat Giles' friend owned was nice. It wasn't overly as far as roominess went, but she and Dawn had their own bed and they weren't right on top of each other eating in the galley. This, on the other hand, was no mere boat.
"There they are." She glanced in the direction of the voice, recognized him as one of the volleyball players. Tim she thought his name was, but wasn't sure. They weren't the only girls there, and that made Buffy feel a little better.
"Hi," Buffy said, tucking some hair behind her ear. She was feeling a little shy, a little out of her league especially if one of these guys owned this boat.
"Buffy and Dawn, right?"
"You got it."
"Great. Help yourself. There's beer, pop, wine coolers, and the like in the bucket on the deck. If you prefer a cocktail, we can mix something up for you."
"I'll get us something, Buffy."
Buffy took his offered hand. "Hi, Tim, thanks for inviting us." Buffy smiled, glad she was right. He wasn't an overly memorable guy, but he was one of the couple that had taken the time to help her with her serve. She hadn't played volleyball since high school and she wasn't very good then. To say she was rusty and not real good was an understatement.
"Hey, we're neighbors, right? That's what neighbors do."
"So your sister, she's your sister, right?"
"A blonde and a brunette, lucky parents."
"Something like that."
"Anyway, she told us she goes to Northwestern. Do you live out that way?"
"I," Buffy frowned. "No. I've been kind of a wanderer the past couple of years. Traveling, working here and there if I found a place I wanted to stay put in for a while. But I'm back, moving to Cleveland."
"Home of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame."
"Sure is," she said, taking the can of diet pop Dawn offered her. "Thanks, Dawn."
"You're coming out with us, right?"
"Yeah, we were planning on it."
"Great," he pointed to her and then back at him. "I've got to get a dance in with you."
He draped an arm over her shoulder and drew her close. "Your sister," he said quietly. "Does she have an ID?"
"Good, good, I know she's not twenty-one and we'll be hitting a lot of places tonight."
"No problem. We're good."
"Great. I'm going to go get a drink. I'll find you later."
And then he totally freaked Buffy out and kissed her. It wasn't just a peck either, it was full, on the mouth, lips parted, tongue action. He pulled away almost right away, causing Buffy to blink and try to figure out if she'd just imagined it. By the shocked look on Dawn's face she hadn't. Great. She was so not looking for a Spring Break fling. Evidently, this guy was and thought she was an easy mark. Why? Because she was twenty-five and hanging out with her younger sister?
"Please tell me he's drunk and that combined with sun poisoning made him do that?"
"I don't know."
"I don't have a sign painted over my head saying I'm desperate or anything, do I?"
"Okay, good. That was just weird."
"Was it a good kiss at least?"
"I don't know, it was over so fast I didn't have time."
Cocktail hour turned into more like three hours. Buffy saw Tim a time or two, which she expected considering it was a boat and not a house. Each time he spotted her looking in his direction he held up his thumb. She wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry she'd gotten the guy's attention. Soon, though, the group that was going out clubbing was on their way out of the marina.
Buffy wore some of her best clubbing clothes. When she went dancing she was of the mind that she had it she may as well flaunt it. It had gotten her in trouble with The Immortal, but not over her head trouble. She'd caught on pretty quickly what he was about and had left Rome without hesitation or regret. She left no forwarding address, no email address. She was untraceable, though to someone like him she doubted that would stop him. He had more than likely moved onto the next girl, or two or three, by now so she wasn't worried.
He was Buffy's dirty little secret. There was no soul, no chip at work with him and his alignment with good or evil was clearly questionable. He changed sides like the wind blew. It was somewhat euphoric, but it had gotten old quick. It was the last relationship she'd been in, the last man she'd been with. She no longer wanted casual. She was finally ready for all out, mind blowing, earth shattering love and coming back to the States was the beginning of the best chapter of Buffy's life. It seemed sort of fitting to spend time in LA first at this juncture in her life. It was where the most significant change in her life had occurred. Her calling.
Tim and another guy paid their cover charges at each club, so by the time they were at the last club of the night Buffy and Dawn had spent less than twenty dollars between the two of them.
"I noticed you haven't protested what's his name paying for you."
"Butch, and no. There's nothing wrong with letting the guys pay."
"Absolutely. Just be careful."
"I totally love Peter."
"I meant be careful. He doesn't know you love Peter and probably thinks you're available."
"Am I horrible for not mentioning him?"
Buffy shook her head. "I don't think so. Omission isn't a sin. And you're not doing anything wrong."
"Thanks." Buffy could tell Dawn was relieved. "Just don't leave without me. I don't have superhero strength."
"I wouldn't let you out of my sight, Dawn."
"I know. Enough with the serious talk. Let's pick out some guys for us to dance with."
"Dawn, the two we have following us around aren't enough?"
"No worse than you were when you were this age."
"I guess you've got a point there."
"We won't stay out too much longer."
"Why stop now? Sunrises are in no way overrated. This is your week. Our week. Fun is the only thing on the menu."
"Okay," she said, tugging Buffy out onto the dance floor.
Finding dance partners wasn't difficult. It was closing time and they had been on the go all night. Buffy loved it, felt the adrenaline pumping through her. She was eager to go. She remembered this feeling, loved it. Only thing was, it made her want to go kill something, which was not of the wise if she was trying to be normal-girl for a week.
Tim and Butch had seemed sincerely disappointed when Buffy and Dawn declined their offer to continue the night at their boat. When they returned to their boat, though, Buffy was too wound up to go to sleep right away.
"I'm going to go for a walk, Dawn."
"Just to watch the sunrise."
"You want company?"
"No, I mean, you look tired so get some rest."
"Positive." She did a quick change of clothes from her slinkier clubbing clothes into more conservative beachwear, which consisted of shorts and a tank with sandals. She slid into her windbreaker, knowing it could be cool this time of the morning.
She walked to the end of the marina for an unobstructed view. It was beautiful, breathtaking. Her life had revolved around the sun and its cycles for years now. It was odd to just be able to stand here and enjoy the beauty that was nature at work. Even the water seemed to cooperate with her more serene mood and was making gentle laps against the beach and the marina's piers.
She slid her feet out of her sandals when she came to some rocks and moved to sit on one. She suspected the guys they'd gone out with tonight would come around. Buffy wasn't sure how Dawn would want to handle that. Tim was not her type, she knew that already. She was all for giving a guy a chance, but he was too into the partying scene for her. She imagined he would make the same assumption about her not realizing what her life was. She took a deep sigh, arms going around her knees as she gathered them to her chest. Maybe she'd give him a chance. What could it hurt? Other than her scheduled to be in Cleveland in less than two weeks.
Her body went on alert. To anyone who knew her it would be apparent she was going into defense mode. Someone was watching her. She scanned the area but didn't see anyone who seemed to be focused on her. It wasn't an evil alert feeling. She couldn't shake it, though. Deciding it was probably best not to tempt fate and that Dawn's enthusiastic wakeup call would come all too soon she started back toward the boat.
She glanced around once more for any sign that her body hadn't been fooled. She saw nothing, so she went aboard more than ready to call it a night just as the sun was almost completely visible in the horizon.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com